Is it possible for a musician to utterly lack all sense of quality control about his music? Swamped as metal is today with mediocre bands, it makes one wonder whether the people behind the music are honest enough with themselves before they commit what is to be, or should be in an ideal world, a definitive representation of their most cherished pursuits in life before the world at large. Do they demand the most exacting standards of themselves before pulling the trigger, spending countless hours agonizing over the minutest aspect of the art they’re creating? After all, nobody wants to put out listless music on purpose; everybody wants to be taken seriously, irrespective of the irreverent facades that they may put on for whatever reason. Why then the surplus of bands that make all the right noises but either seem entirely ignorant of the storied histories of their respective genres, or tread water in the wake of giants but lack, along with good songwriting, that ineffable something which elevates the great above the barely competent?
It is surely no crime to be inspired enough to pick up an instrument and make music. Music is perhaps the purest expression of the human will and as such any impetus to create something out of nothing should be honoured and encouraged. The problem arises with a faulty sense of self-worth and an inability to see oneself as anything less than the preconceived, lofty image that has been erected in the mind. In a secular, politically correct world where people have been conditioned to think that all opinions are equally valid and deserving of expression and acceptance, as arrogant as the latter presumption is, a genuine sense of introspection has been sacrificed in favour of universal “rights”. The anonymity of the internet allows everyone to develop a false sense of confidence – yours truly included for form’s sake – in one’s less than adequate skills. People, musicians or otherwise, don’t have the nous anymore to pause and take brutal stock of themselves and whether they are offering anything of value to the world. They do something and so, by conjunction, it must be right. How could it not?
Nagging self-doubt isn’t the proposed cure; there is much to be said for spontaneity and intuition. Muses can offer bursts of inspiration in the unlikeliest of circumstances, and it should never be the attempt to bypass this most wonderful and mysterious of phenomena. But all old hands in metal know by now that there are virtually no modern bands capable of igniting the same magic that was once so universally evident, and still is after countless trips down memory lane. And yet, the number of new releases keeps increasing exponentially every year. Not brave enough to take a step back and acknowledge that the well has run dry, bands and labels and fans keep grinding on, exhausting an invaluable currency, one that should be guarded zealously in fear of ultimate redundancy, for petty, short-term interests.
The sad truth is that the muses gave up on metal a long time ago; all that’s left now are fools drowning in misplaced self-belief.